Last week you met Dash, the feral-turned-domestic-cat I adopted when his allergic guardians had to give him up because he wanted to come inside.
But it wasn’t an easy decision for me. Yes, he’s very sweet and about as laid back as a 1970’s hippy, just high on life — a groovy guy filled with peace and love. So no, it wasn’t Dash that made my decision difficult. It was Taffy.
As you know, Taffy is my 10 pound Papillon mix. She’s the tiniest of my pets, yet I believe the one most feared — including and especially by Dash. Turns out he’s a big wuss. The first 2 weeks after I brought him home, I told him often: I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep you if you keep letting Taffy scare the bejeebers out of you. But I don’t think he believed me.
I separated Dash from the dogs with a baby gate so he had the run of the downstairs bedrooms, hall and bathroom. But Taffy would sit at the gate for hours (no lie) and stare at him lying in the hallway, he staring back at her. It was a stare-off with Taffy always winning. Her obsession with him caused her to whimper and her body quiver.
Eventually I had to crate Taffy so I could bring Dash into the family room to be with the gang in the evening. Still, no amount of distraction worked to tear Taffy’s eyes from him. Not even the offer of treats. When I’d put him on the chair next to her, she’d nudge him in an attempt to get him to play. He, wide-eyed and ready to dash (I couldn’t resist) simply froze, reacting as though he’d seen a ghost.
Taffy’s joy in life is wrestling with Wally and she so wished to share that game with Dash, who was having none of it, thank you very much. He was quite content to stay on the chair all night, if necessary. But as he became more comfy with his obsessed fan, Dash jumped from chair to sofa to coffee table, never daring to encounter the ground. I told him: you can’t live like this Dash. One day you’ll need to actually walk.
Nearly 2 months into my fostering him, Dash’s feet finally touched the ground outside the sanctity of the baby gate. But no walking was involved, no casual strolling. Instead, he sprinted into the living room, slid across the dining room, knocked into the buffet, then rocketed himself through the kitchen, leaping like a bounding deer across the family room onto the fireplace hearth where he appeared quite happy with himself.
As Dash became braver, he’d sneak into the family room in the evening to be with us, taking refuge on the back of the sofa until the rest of us headed up to bed. Once we were upstairs, I’d hear him galloping on the hardwood floor, utterly joyful that he finally had the place to himself.
Now that I’ve adopted Dash, he sometimes appears upstairs in the middle of the night and even once recently jumped onto the bed, his bravery the result only of Taffy being crated. I marvel at how much he adores Fat Jack, who tolerates being ambushed by him when the cats are called to breakfast. Dash also comes in handy by entertaining my foster kittens. And on a side note, he tolerates me quite well.
I’m betting one day Dash and Taffy will be best buddies. Each day he lets his guard down a little more, beginning to realize Taffy is no threat. Actually, as I write this, they’re sleeping together on the same chair. Now don’t get me wrong; Dash is still a work in progress with feeling secure leisurely strolling through the house. But what can I say?
He’s true to his name.